Going Wild for Wildlife: An Interview with Jamie T.

Images by Jamie T.

Earlier this month a hero among Animal Behaviour Students, Jamie T, organised a quiz night to raise money for the “gardeners of the rain forest.” I was lucky enough to chat with him about wildlife, charities, and what there is to see for animal lovers in Adelaide!

First of all, tell me a little about yourself.

Well I’m an Animal Behaviour student from South Australia, and although I love all animals, my area of interest is ‘ungulates’, also known as hoofed mammals, with a particular interest in wild cattle, and the wonderfully unique animals known as tapirs!

Something I need to ask all animal experts: what’s your favourite quirky animal fact?

Oh oh oh… give me a minute…

A group of flamingos is called a flamboyance.

Sea otters hold each others’ hands while they sleep so they don’t drift away from each other.

The Okapi was once thought to be a mythological creature, or a unicorn, until it was discovered in 1910, and now they’re in lots of European and American zoos!

And… The Hyrax‘s closest living relative is the African Elephant.

[Jamie added that those were all the G-rated facts he could think of, anyway!]

Haha that’s amazing! You’re clearly an animal lover – what are some of the best things for animal lovers to do in Adelaide?

My favourite thing to do is visit Adelaide’s local zoos and wildlife parks, they have such an incredible range of species, and every time I go I always learn something new. The behind the scenes tours are fantastic, too. Adelaide also has a lot of great locations for lovers of waterfowl, such as St Peters Billabong, the river Torrens/Karra wirra-parri, and the Botanic Gardens!

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You recently organised a Quiz Night for World Tapir Day. Why Tapirs?

I did indeed! Tapirs are one of my favourite animals, and they’re such an integral part of their habitats, yet most people have never heard of them, so they don’t really receive the conservation attention that they need or deserve. When tapirs eat fruits and plants, the seeds pass through their digestive system and are dispersed throughout the rain forest, promoting the growth of plants that other animals rely on for food and shelter. So I guess they’re like the gardeners, or farmers, of the rain forest.

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What does it take to organise an event like this?

A LOT of time, patience, hard work, commitment, and a supportive network of friends!

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What was your favourite part about the evening?

My favourite part was meeting lots of new people, many of whom were also animal lovers.

What was the most difficult part of the evening?

The most difficult part was the timing, especially with the questions. There were only the 3 of us, so we were a bit time-constrained. It think next time I’d try to get more help on the night to mark sheets, sell raffle tickets etc.

You chose to raise funds for the World Land Trust and IUCN Tapir Specialist group. What makes them so special?

The World Land Trust, through their Forests in the Sky appeal, buy up acres of land in Ecuador to reclaim and protect tapir habit, which I think is a really great way to preserve habitat: if you can’t protect it, buy it!
The IUCN Tapir Specialist Group (TSG) is a group of biologists, conservationist, zookeepers, and advocates from around the world who collaborate and make recommendations on how to protect wild tapirs, and use donations to fund tapir-related research, education, and conservation programs.

How much did you end up raising?

Over $2,400 which is amazing! My goal was $2,000 ($1,000 for each charity), so to get that is incredible in itself, but to get 120% of my goal is just fantastic!

What will this money go towards? What sort of impact will this make?

The World Land Trust will be able to purchase and protect just over 5 acres of tapir habitat, and the Tapir Specialist Group will be able to purchase and maintain 2 camera traps for recording lowland tapir population data in Brazil. So even though it’s not super huge amount of money, it will definitely have a positive impact on tapir conservation!

Now that you’ve experienced such success, do you plan to organise another event in the future?

Oh for sure! Now that I know the full extent of what’s required to host a Quiz Night, I want to host one every World Tapir Day! I’d also love to organise some other kinds of fundraisers during the rest of the year, I’m open to any suggestions!

Where can we find events like this in the future?

Zoos, Schools, Community Groups, and businesses often run quiz nights throughout the year. Keep an eye out on social media, and community noticeboards at your local shopping centre for Quiz Nights and fundraisers in your area.

If we can’t make it to the events, what are some other things we Adelaideans can do to help save the world?

Adelaideans who can’t make it to events can always donate cash or prizes to fundraisers, and advertising or inviting friends is always a big help! Or if they have the time, they could even host their own event!

 

All photos taken by Jamie T. If you love animals and want a behind-the-scenes peek into the life of an aspiring zookeeper, follow Jamie on Instagram! @goingwildforwildlife

 

 

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